Stoke City will hope to move above West Ham United with a win over Southampton at the Britannia on Saturday afternoon.
Stoke’s draw away to West Ham last weekend means that Mark Hughes’ side still remain below them in the league table on goal difference. If they are to leapfrog them, then they will have to overcome the difficult challenge of beating a Southampton side who seem to be returning to the same level of form they displayed earlier in the season.
Southampton are coming back into form and while sitting in sixth place in the table as things stand, they are only five points behind Manchester City in fourth and can move above Liverpool with a win over Stoke. Ronald Koeman’s hopes of European qualification for Southampton are far from being dashed and he will want to make the most of their rivals’ recent poor performances.
Peter Odemwingie is still suffering with a ligament injury and will be unavailable for Stoke until next month at the earliest. There is no return date for Marc Wilson and Victor Moses as yet and Bojan Krkic is out for the season.
Jay Rodriguez is only a few weeks from making his return to the Southampton team but the season is already over for a number of the club’s players; Fraser Forster, Emmanuel Mayuka and Filip Djuricic are all out for the rest of the season.
- The last time these two sides met at the Britannia, it ended in a 1-1 draw.
- Asmir Begovic opened the scoring in that game after 13 seconds.
- Stoke have not won any of their last four league games.
- Southampton can beat their Premier League record of 56 points with a win over Stoke.
- The Saints have not won any of their last three away games in the league.
N’Zonzi has been Stoke’s best player this year, in my opinion, playing in all 32 of their league games and scoring one goal. According to Squawka.com, he has created 27 chances for his team-mates but has only made one assist. He has completed an impressive 1499 passes in the league, meaning he has a passing accuracy of 84%. Unlike his Southampton counterpart, he has been able to win 56% of the duels he has been involved in. Looking at this more closely, N’Zonzi has won 68% of the headed duels he has fought for. He has been involved in an average of two defensive actions per game with most of these being clearances. Against Southampton’s midfield, N’Zonzi will have to be on the top of his game on Saturday.
Tadic is considered by many people to be Southampton’s players of the season and has certainly had his part to play in the team’s good fortune with 30 appearances, during which he has scored four goals from midfield. According to Squawka.com, he has created 68 chances for his team-mates and has assisted on seven goals. Tadic has completed 647 passes this season but this means he only has a slightly average completion percentage of 78%. However, Tadic has only been able to win 40% of all the duels he has been involved in and has only been involved in just one defensive action per game. That being said, Tadic is a very influential player for the Saints and will likely have a big part to play in the game against Stoke.
Stoke will be desperate to win at home but I think Southampton will have too much for them on Saturday. I see the Saints continuing to improve in the form table and win this game 2-1.